Travel: Mental Health Break in Stowe, Vermont

Before we left for our long weekend in Vermont, I was wound very tightly. My daily calendar had been packed with family and work chores for weeks. I didn’t realize how burnt out I was, until we walked into the house on Tuesday night, and I realized that I was relaxed. Oh, that’s how relaxed feels! It was nice.

I’m a terrible skier. My urban, working-class parents never took us skiing, viewing the activity with the same skepticism as others might view eating bugs or sky diving. Why the hell would someone want to do something like that? So, I only got on skis for the first time in my 20’s with a friend who taught me how to ski by pushing me down a black diamond. Imagine me head first in a snow drift with my skis skidding down the mountain without me.

But I always wanted to be the type of person who skis. People who ski are blond and athletic and healthy. It’s a great winter activity. So, we try to get our kids on skis every year. Even the autistic kid is better than I am. This year, we went to Stowe, Vermont to ski, and I did some bunny slope action. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t pretty.

Stowe is a rich person’s town in the middle of rural state where the median income is $57,000. It is problematic. But it’s still beautiful. In -9 degree weather, we bundled up and tromped though the woods, poked our heads into little shops of art and cute purses, and drank local brews next to toasty fireplaces.

  • Links:
  • Stow Ski slope (Don’t buy your tickets at the mountain. Find a good package deal on line, before you show up.)
  • Ben and Jerry tour
  • Stowe Mercantile – Tasteful souvenirs
  • The Boutique – For when you need to get away from sporting stuff, and buy yourself something girlie.
  • I had many Von Trapp beers. We also got a nice sandwich in their bakery. Great grounds at the lodge that you can explore without staying in the hotel, which actually looks a little sad.
  • Downtown Burlington is good for an afternoon. If you overlook the mall stores, there’s plenty of other stuff to do, like outdoorsy boutiques and comic book stores. University of Vermont is up the block and gives you a great view of the downtown and Lake Champlain. Last time, we were there in the summer time and took a boat ride along the lake, which is gorgeous even if is not a Great Lake — a fact that my hubby from Cleveland felt was super important.
  • Ski and Snow Inn. A nicely renovated former motel with a pub and a bowling alley. Across the street from a nice trail, where you can cross country ski (rental place is also across the street). Ten minute drive to the slopes. Would totally stay there again.

(Okay, I know we want to talk about last night’s debate. Let me get finish this post, and we’ll talk.)

13 thoughts on “Travel: Mental Health Break in Stowe, Vermont

  1. “So, I only got on skis for the first time in my 20’s with a friend who taught me how to ski by pushing me down a black diamond.”

    Speaking as somebody who got her first ski lesson at 5 at Sun Valley and did a week of ski lessons almost every winter into my teens at different locations in the Pacific Northwest–that was not very nice of your friend!

    “This year, we went to Stowe, Vermont to ski, and I did some bunny slope action. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t pretty.”

    Next time, splash out on some lessons if you can. It makes a huge difference.

    When we used to go to ski resorts when I was a kid, my mom would mostly lurk in local galleries, which was her idea of fun. My dad obviously loved to ski, though.

    I grew up downhill skiing, but it’s not really something I have managed to give my kids, as living in TX, our geography is all wrong for affordable skiing. We’ve joined our extended family 1.5 times since having kids. The first time, our oldest went with my husband at 3 (we had belatedly discovered that it would be a bad idea to share a hotel room with our infant who didn’t sleep well on the road). The second time, we managed a trip as a family of 4 and both kids got to do some lessons. It was super fun, but also super expensive on a dollar-per-hour-of-skiing basis. I spent SO much time getting little kids in and out of boots and pushing them up small hills.

    A complicating factor for us is that one branch of the extended family bought a 1/4 (?) share of a hotel unit at a non-Whistler BC resort, so the big extended family trip has been there every year since. It being in Canada really prices us out of doing it as a regular thing, whereas we would be able to do it more if we were going to a less snazzy WA ski resort. Come to think of it, I should probably talk to my sister about this, because we both have little kids who have never skied, and it might be a lot of fun to do together someday. (We’re coming out of a period where 90% of our travel has been to go see family on the West Coast.) When I was in ski lessons with my cousins back in the 80s, it was a blast. At the end of the week, we’d swoosh down a slalom course.

    (I have literally NO idea how my parents afforded this, if anybody else is wondering.)


  2. Never went skiing in my life. 😀 I’ve snowmobiled and snowshoed, though. But skiing is popular here was we’re just a few hours from a bunch of VT and NH areas, and only an hour and a half from Wachusett Mountain.

    We leave for Barcelona in a week to visit the girl. I plan to eat tapas and drink vermouth and look at Gaudi buildings in 65-degree weather and hopefully improve *my* mental health, which is rapidly deteriorating.


  3. “Why the hell would someone want to do something like that?”

    I’ve gone skiing about 3 times. The time I remember most vividly is the time that my boots were too small and my feet died in them and then I had go and exchange the boots, which meant exchanging the skis, which then fell on my head.

    My kiddos school takes the kids skiing for 6 Fridays in January. My now 16 year old went with the others when he was in K (which freaked me out, but everyone was sending their babies, so I figure I should mom-up and do it). It’s the only way he would have learned and it is now a life skills (he likes it, too, so that’s good).

    I have no fantasies about wanting to ski. If I wanted a rich person hang out hobby, it would be sailing, which I still fantasize about being good enough at.


  4. The Great Lakes are indeed special. Lake Superior is an amazing place to visit that is still, I think, off the beaten path.

    We are having our 3rd sunny day in a row (I think I mentioned here before that our last sunny day was November 30th?). It is amazing how much a blue sky can lift spirits, too.


  5. bj said,

    “My kiddos school takes the kids skiing for 6 Fridays in January.”

    Now, that is the way to go. Keep the reluctant moms out of it!

    “My now 16 year old went with the others when he was in K (which freaked me out, but everyone was sending their babies, so I figure I should mom-up and do it).”

    I was riding the Sun Valley chair lift at 5.5.

    The mind boggles.


  6. My kids have spent nearly all or the bulk of their childhoods in TX, so snow would be a very big selling point for them.

    We had a little bit of snow a couple weeks ago, and my 7-year-old made a teeny tiny snowman on our patio table, as that’s how much snow we had.

    Well-off Texans often loooove Colorado.


  7. My parents used to have a house in Stowe, so I love it there even if it is insanely expensive. It’s just as nice in the summer as it is in the winter – maybe even better. I don’t know how much you guys like beer, but if you went to Stowe and didn’t visit Doc Ponds or the Alchemist, then you should 100% go back. The Alchemist has amazing beer – and the folks who brew it are great. And the tap list at Doc Ponds is stellar.


  8. I’ve only been to Stowe once. I only get about a week’s vacation outside of August, and I would rather spend it in the sun, so it’s hard to fit skiing into the schedule. But Vermont generally illustrates the hollowing out of America. (And in the case of Vermont it has nothing to do with race, since pretty much everyone is white.) There are a number of “tinseltowns,” where tourist money (or Rockefeller money in Woodstock, or Bowdoin money in Brunswick) has tarted things up, and there are restaurants with craft beers located in ye olde mill, and lots of rural poverty in between.


  9. Here’s the story of how my family got into skiing:

    Back during WWII, my grandpa got his first real taste of skiing during Army infantry training. It was somewhere ridiculous, like Wisconsin or Minnesota. As I recall the story, the guys got let out of a boxcar in the middle of nowhere and then had to (presumably) cross country ski their way to civilization.


    Amazingly, grandpa took to it. Years later, when my dad and his siblings were big kids, the family started going to Sun Valley, Idaho. Grandpa, being incredibly cheap/frugal/mildly shady, used to buy one lift ticket and the kids all got to share the single parka that had the lift ticket on it…I think they’d mostly just side step up the hills and then ski down for free–which is a lot of work, let me tell you.

    But by the time I was a kid starting to ski in the 1980s, we all got a lift ticket.

    I have to add that tractor skiing (like water skiing, except behind a tractor) is also lots of fun!


  10. One of our family legends involves my auntie accidentally swapping ski poles with a young Caroline Kennedy at Sun Valley.


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